Ted Melfi may not be a name that you immediate recognize because up until recently, the only thing of note that he’d done was the movie St. Vincent, with Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, and Bill Murray. Ahead of its DVD/Blu Ray release, Melfi sat down for an interview on the Nerdist podcast with Chris Hardwick, and naturally, much of the talk turned toward his experience working with Bill Murray.
Melfi went into detail about how he managed to snag Murray for the role. Obviously, he had to call the 1-800 number that Bill Murray has in lieu of an agent. Melfi, however, didn’t call just once. He called a dozen times and left messages with Murray. The voicemail is set up in such a way that you aren’t even sure it belongs to Bill Murray (it’s an automated voice recording saying only that you’ve reached the phone number and to leave a message), so he didn’t know if Murray was getting his messages. After Melfi left several messages, however, he finally got a call from Murray’s lawyer, who asked Melfi to write a one-page “Dear Bill” letter to Murray pitching him on the idea (and it couldn’t be any longer than one page).
Murray liked the letter. A while later, he called and said, “Hey, Ted. It’s Bill Murray,” and according to Melfi, he then asked, “Who are you?”
At that point, Melfi was in Los Angeles, and Murray asked if the two could get together the next day for coffee. Melfi was shooting a commercial at the time and said he couldn’t until that night. Murray said, “Okay. Can you meet me in New York then?” Melfi said he couldn’t make it out to New York the next day, so Murray said, “How about Friday?” And Melfi said, “Yeah. Friday. I could get there on Friday.” And Murray said, ‘No, no. In Cannes.” An exasperated Melfi said he couldn’t possibly get to Cannes by Friday, and Murray responded, “Oh, that’s too bad. It’s going to be a good time.” Murray said he’d call back in a few weeks and hung up. Melfi assumed that he’d just lost his opportunity to work with Murray.
But three weeks later, Murray texted Melfi while Melfi was still in bed and and asked, “Can you meet me in LAX in one hour?” Melfi agreed, threw on his clothes, and went to LAX. There, Murray said, “Let’s go for a drive.” They drove three hours to the Pechanga Indian Casino. Melfi had no idea where he was. Murray took him to his house, said yes to doing the movie, gave the driver some money, and sent Melfi back home, which meant that a trip to LAX to pick up Bill Murray ended up taking more than seven hours.
Typical Bill Murray.